The free and open Internet is neither so free nor so open as we like to believe, and decreasingly so as time progresses but there have been some very worrying moves towards censoring alternative media recently that should you should be aware of.
We are seeing a concerted effort to such down free speech on the Internet, under the name of "fake news", "Russian propaganda", etc. Just this past week, after the Las Vegas Shooting attack, YouTube (owned by Alphabet Inc. [Google]) reportedly updated its search engine algorithms in an effort to diminish the reach of conspiracy videos and promote more authoritative videos, and ultimately censor political content.
A Global Fight Against Internet Censorship
The Relationship Between Google and Intelligence Agencies
Ever since Edward Snowden blew the lid off the extensive Internet data collection and spying efforts of the National Security Agency (NSA), Google has claimed that they never willingly participated in the surveillance program nor did it share its servers with the NSA.
However, a series of emails exchanged between NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Google executives Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt have been revealed. The emails are from 2011 and 2012, before Snowden revealed the NSA's secrets in June 2013. Alexander's emails hint at the importance of "Google's participation in refinement, engineering and deployment of solutions," to cyber threats.
Congress Passes Bill Approving Deceptive Domestic Propaganda
The amendment, known as the “Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012”, was tagged on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 would allow for the United States government to create and distribute pro-American propaganda within the country’s own borders.
As per the bill, "The Secretary and the Broadcasting Board of Governors are authorized to use funds appropriated or otherwise made available for public diplomacy information programs to provide for the preparation, dissemination, and use of information intended for foreign audiences abroad about the United States, its people, and its policies, through press, publications, radio, motion pictures, the Internet, and other information media, including social media, and through information centers, instructors, and other direct or indirect means of communication."
The original Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 was developed to counter communism during the Cold War, although it is outdated for the conflicts of today.
Congress Passes Bill Targeting "Propaganda" Websites
On November 30, 2016 one week after the Washington Post launched its witch hunt against "Russian propaganda fake news", with 390 votes for, the House quietly passed "H.R. 6393, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017", sponsored by California Republican Devin Nunes (whose third largest donor in 2016 is Google parent Alphabet, Inc), a bill which deals with a number of intelligence-related issues, including Russian propaganda, or what the government calls propaganda, and hints at a potential crackdown on "offenders."
A quick skim of the bill reveals "Title V—Matters relating to foreign countries", whose Section 501 calls for the government to "counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence … carried out in coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly.”
The section lists the following definitions of media manipulation:
This law could be used to target, threaten, or eliminate so-called “fake news” websites, a list which has been used to arbitrarily define any website, or blog, that does not share the mainstream media's proclivity to serve as the Public Relations arm of a given administration.
Solutions: Boycott Google
Here are the links to the search alternatives mentioned:
Congress.gov. (2012). H.R.5736 - Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012. [online] Available at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/112th-congress/house-bill/5736/text [Accessed 6 Oct. 2017].
Durdin, Tyler. (2016) House quietly passes bill targeting "Russian propaganda" websites. [online] Available at: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-02/house-quietly-passes-bill-targeting-russian-propaganda-websites [Accessed 6 Oct. 2017]
Govtrack. (2016). H.R. 6393 (114th): Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. [online] Available at: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr6393/text [Accessed 6 Oct. 2017].
Lamarque, Kevin. (2012). NDAA 2013: Congress approves domestic deceptive propaganda. [online] Available at: https://www.rt.com/usa/propaganda-us-smith-amendment-903/ [Accessed 6 Oct. 2017].
Levin, Sam. (2017). YouTube alters search algorithm over fake Las Vegas conspiracy videos. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/06/youtube-alters-search-algorithm-over-fake-las-vegas-conspiracy-videos [Accessed 6 Oct. 2017].
Zuckerberg thanked Podesta for sharing his experiences with the Center for American Progress (CAP), a Democratic think tank founded by Podesta.
Included in the thread was an email to Podesta from Elliot Schrage, the vice president of communications at Facebook, who said Zuckerberg was looking for a way to “direct his wealth to have an impact as great as Facebook” adding that Podesta’s ideas had “really moved his thinking.”
Zuckerberg then asked Podesta if he could reach out in the future to hear his ideas and said he was looking forward to continuing their conversation.
“I hope it’s okay if I reach out as my thinking develops to get your ideas and reactions,” Zuckerberg said. “If there are any other folks you think I should talk to, please let me know.”
RT International. (2017). Podesta emails showed Facebook colluded with Clinton, Assange reminds. [online] Available at: https://www.rt.com/usa/404971-assange-facebook-podesta-collusion/#.Wc49PRNVux0.twitter [Accessed 3 Oct. 2017].
Wikileaks.org. (2017). RE: At a loss for words - WikiLeaks. [online] Available at: https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/19070 [Accessed 3 Oct. 2017].
Wikileaks.org. (2017). RE: Happy New Year - WikiLeaks. [online] Available at: https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/56638 [Accessed 3 Oct. 2017].
Wikileaks.org. (2017). Re: Thanks - WikiLeaks. [online] Available at: https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/50406 [Accessed 3 Oct. 2017].
The Senate passed a roughly $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on September 18, 2017, with a final vote of 89 to 8.
The NDAA, which sets forth the Pentagon's budget and major programs for the next fiscal year, does authorize an additional $8.5 billion for the Missile Defense Agency to strengthen homeland, regional and space missile defense. That authorization is $630 million above the Trump administration's request.
The 2018 national defense bill also authorizes just over $141 billion for military personnel costs, including costs of pay, bonuses, benefits and moving expenses. It provides a 2.1% increase in pay for troops.
The legislation also includes money to increase troop numbers above the White House's request, adding thousands of new members to the Army and Marine Corps as well as boosting reserve totals.
Also in the final version for the defense bill is a provision that allows the Department of Defense from using security software products from Russian-based Kaspersky Labs.
In all, more than 300 amendments were proposed for the Senate's NDAA.
The final Senate version of the 1,215-page bill includes a base budget of $640 billion and another $60 billion for the so-called Overseas Contingency Operations war funding, which includes money for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations.
Congress.gov. (2017). Text - H.R.2810 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. [online] Available at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2810/text [Accessed 26 Sep. 2017].
Daniels, J. (2017). Senate passes $700 billion defense policy bill. [online] CNBC. Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/18/senate-passes-700-billion-defense-policy-bill-backing-trump-call-for-steep-increase-in-military-spending.html [Accessed 26 Sep. 2017].
A former Facebook executive said Thursday Facebook and Google act as "surveillance states" because of the vast amount of data they have on users.
"Amazon is a microscopic portion of global consumption today, so ultimately I think it has more room to grow before it invites regulatory overview," Palihapitiya said. "On the other hand, Facebook and Google effectively are surveillance states. And they have so much personal, private information about so many citizens of so many countries."
Palihapitiya worked at Facebook from 2005-2011, and has worked as a venture capitalist since.
He referenced Google having to deal with European regulators and being fined for breaching antitrust rules, saying, "It's already beginning. Because it's part and parcel to them realizing that there's too much power unbounded."
CNBC. (2017). Chamath Palihapitiya: Facebook and Google have become 'surveillance states'. [online] Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/video/2017/09/14/chamath-palihapitiya-facebook-and-google-have-become-surveillance-states.html [Accessed 16 Sep. 2017].
Devaney, J. (2017). Former Facebook Exec: Facebook, Google Are 'Surveillance States'. [online] Newsmax. Available at: https://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/facebook-google-surveillance-states-chamath-palihapitiya/2017/09/14/id/813702/ [Accessed 16 Sep. 2017].
An investigative journalist has been interrogated by government national security forces and fired from her job for documenting and exposing covert CIA-NATO operations directly arming ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists- a covert operation involving NATO, CIA, U.S.-based Mega Arms Trafficker(s), a shady U.S. organization ran by well-known Deep State Players, and much more.
In this Newsbud exclusive breaking story and investigative report, a exclusive interview with investigative journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva is included, as well as, a candid commentary by Sibel Edmonds, leaked documented evidence, and glaring direct connections to some of the biggest names and entities connected to the Deep State, and CIA-NATO Operation Gladio B.
A months-long investigation which tracked and exposed a massive covert weapons shipment network to terror groups in Syria via diplomatic flights originating in the Caucuses and Eastern Europe under the watch of the CIA and other intelligence agencies has resulted in the interrogation and firing of the Bulgarian journalist who first broke the story. This comes as the original report is finally breaking into mainstream international coverage.
Investigative reporter Dilyana Gaytandzhieva authored a bombshell report for Trud Newspaper, based in Sofia, Bulgaria, which found that an Azerbaijan state airline company was regularly transporting tons of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Turkey under diplomatic cover as part of the CIA covert program to supply anti-Assad fighters in Syria. Those weapons, Gaytandzhieva found, ended up in the hands of ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
While it's long been understood that the US-Gulf-NATO coalition arming rebels inside Syria facilitated the rapid rise of the Islamic State as the group had steady access to a "jihadi Wal-Mart" of weapons (in the words of one former spy and British diplomat), the Trud Newspaper report is the first to provide exhaustive documentation detailing the precise logistical chain of the weapons as they flowed from their country of origin to the battlefield in Syria and Iraq. Gaytandzhieva even traveled to Aleppo where she filmed and examined labeled weapons shipping containers held in underground jihadist storehouses.
The Bulgaria-based journalist obtained and published dozens of secret internal memos which were leaked to her by an anonymous source as part of the report. The leaked documents appear to be internal communications between the Bulgarian government and Azerbaijan's Embassy in Sofia detailing flight plans for Silk Way Airlines, which was essentially operating an "off the books" weapons transport service (not subject to inspections or tax under diplomatic cover) for the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), Saudi Arabia, Israel, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. Silk Way Airlines has been the subject of other recent investigations involving weapons supplies for the Saudi war on Yemen. In addition, the military monitoring site Balkan Insight has exposed similar weapons cargo flights in and out of neighboring Serbia.
But perhaps the more explosive finding involves private American companies contracting with the US government to help train and equip militants in Syria. An investigative series by Buzzfeed - the first of which was published in 2015 - named military contractor Purple Shovel LLC as the recipient of two no-bid contracts totaling more $50 million as part of the US train and equip program for Syria. Gaytandzhieva's report definitively links Purple Shovel and other private American military contractors to the Azerbaijan Silk Way Airlines shipments. One leaked memo includes a cargo manifest for multiple tons of anti-tank grenades purchased in Bulgaria by Purple Shovel which were ostensibly designated for the official consignee - the Ministry of Defense of Ajerbaijan - but which never made it to Ajerbaijan. The documents, however, reveal that the military cargo was offloaded at Turkey's Incirlik air base, which is one of the US and NATO's main command centers for covert operations in Syria.
Though Gaytandzhieva's report is months old and began through a series of smaller investigations, it gained little traction in Western or international press, even though it was promoted on social media and discussed among some of the world's foremost experts on Syria and the Middle East.
The CIA program relied heavily on US ally Saudi Arabia to arm anti-Assad jihadists, and while it appears that the White House recently ended the CIA side of things, there's no evidence to suggest that Saudi Arabia or other participating allied countries ever ceased or even slowed their part of the operations. Also, given that both the CIA and Pentagon contract with private firms acting as middle men to get weapons to the Syrian battlefield, it is uncertain if all aspects of the CIA program have really been shut down. Historically, the CIA has sometimes farmed out legally questionable activities to private contractors for the sake of 'plausible deniability'. Furthermore, the Pentagon side of the program, which supplies Kurdish and Arab groups in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) appears to be ramping up of late.
Given the latest development of Trud Newspaper firing its own journalist and Bulgarian authorities attempting to locate her sources, it is entirely possible and likely that pressure is building for Trud to remove the story from its website.
Gaytandzhieva, D. (2017). 350 diplomatic flights carry weapons for terrorists. [online] Труд. Available at: https://trud.bg/350-diplomatic-flights-carry-weapons-for-terrorists/ [Accessed 15 Sep. 2017].
Skouras, S. (2017). Breaking: Journalist Interrogated & Sacked for Exposing CIA-NATO Arming of Terrorists. [online] Newsbud. Available at: https://www.newsbud.com/2017/08/29/breaking-journalist-interrogated-sacked-for-exposing-cia-nato-arming-of-terrorists/ [Accessed 15 Sep. 2017].
Zerohedge.com. (2017). Journalist Interrogated, Fired For Story Linking CIA And Syria Weapons Flights | Zero Hedge. [online] Available at: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-28/journalist-interrogated-fired-story-linking-cia-and-syria-weapons-flights [Accessed 15 Sep. 2017].
The drug maker used a combination of tactics, such as falsifying medical records and misleading insurance companies, according to a federal indictment and ongoing congressional investigation by Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri.
The new report by McCaskill's office released Wednesday includes allegations about just how far the company went to push prescriptions of its sprayable form of fentanyl. Because of the high cost associated with Subsys, most insurers wouldn't pay for it unless it was approved in advance. That process, likely familiar to anyone who's taken an expensive medication, is called "prior-authorization."
So Insys set up an elaborate charade -- with employees that pretended to be doctors' offices -- to fool insurance companies into approving the drug, according to the Senate report.
The Senate report documented how beginning in 2014, when someone needed to obtain prior approval for a Subsys prescription, it was actually an Insys employee who called the insurer and its affiliates to persuade them. The insurers thought they were talking to someone who worked for the actual patient's doctor, and the Insys employees had a carefully crafted script designed to intentionally leave that impression, according to the report.
Insys even went so far as to obscure its outgoing phone number on caller IDs, so that calls wouldn't be traced back to the company, the report said. And if an insurer needed a phone number for a return call, company employees "reportedly provided a 1-800 number manned by another Insys representative -- instead of contact information for the prescribing physician," according to McCaskill's report.
During such calls, there was usually a key question: did the patient have acute pain caused by cancer, known as "breakthrough" pain? Cancer was a requirement for prior clearance to prescribe Subsys.
Insys got around this by finding various ways for its employees to create the impression on the phone calls that the answer was yes, they did have cancer, without explicitly saying so, according to the report.
A recording of a such a call, obtained by McCaskill's investigators and provided below, shows the wordplay Insys employees engaged in.
On the call, the Insys employee began by saying she was "with" the office of Fuller's doctor, and subsequently claimed she was "calling from the doctor's office."
The Insys employee is then heard suggesting she's thumbing through Fuller's paperwork, trying to find the diagnosis in the medical records.
She casually drops the line -- sounding as if she's reading from the patient's records -- that Subsys is "intended for the management of breakthrough cancer pain," without explicitly saying Fuller herself has cancer. The Insys employee then tells the insurance representative that Fuller suffers from "breakthrough pain" -- leaving out the word "cancer."
Later in the call, a different insurance representative asks flatly if the Subsys will be used to treat "breakthrough cancer pain or not," and the Insys employee first responds that there's "no code for breakthrough cancer pain."
When the representative for the insurance affiliate reiterates that he wanted to "make sure that I heard you correctly," the Insys employee tells him: "It's for breakthrough pain, yeah," again leaving out the word cancer.
The company's president and CEO Saeed Motahari submitted a letter to congressional investigators dated September 1 to respond to McCaskill's probe.
"These mistakes and actions are not indicative of the people that are currently employed at Insys," Motahari wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by CNN.
He wrote that Insys had "completely transformed its employee base over the last several years," and has "actively taken the appropriate steps to place ethical standards of conduct and patient interests at the heart of our business decisions."
Insys is currently in the midst of an avalanche of criminal and civil legal trouble.
In December, federal prosecutors in Boston criminally charged six former Insys executives, including its former CEO, with fraud and racketeering charges related to Subsys. Prosecutors described a "nationwide conspiracy to bribe medical practitioners to unnecessarily prescribe a fentanyl-based pain medication and defraud health care insurers."
The Opioid Epidemic
The opioid epidemic has resulted in a staggering human and financial cost in the United States over the past 20 years. Approximately 183,000 Americans died from prescription opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2015, with more than 15,000 Americans dying in 2015 alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015 “[t]he age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2015...was more than 2.5 times the rate in 1999.” Provisional 2016 statistics from the CDC also show that “[d]rug deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled from 2015 to 2016,” and “deaths involving synthetic opioids, mostly fentanyls, have risen to more than 20,000 from 3,000 in just three years.” In Missouri, the rate of prescription opioid-related inpatient hospitalizations and emergency room visits more than doubled from 187 per 100,000 to 424 per 100,000 between 2005 and 2014.
Department of Justice. (2017). Pharmaceutical Executives Charged in Racketeering Scheme. [online] Available at: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/pr/pharmaceutical-executives-charged-racketeering-scheme [Accessed 14 Sep. 2017].
Kessler, A. (2017). Report: Drug company faked cancer patients to sell drug. [online] CNN. Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/06/politics/insys-cancer-drug-company-faked-cancer-patients-to-sell-drug/index.html [Accessed 14 Sep. 2017].
The Pentagon Highlands Forum’s co-optation of tech giants like Google to pursue mass surveillance, has played a key role in secret efforts to manipulate the media as part of an information war against the American government, the American people, and the rest of the world: to justify endless war, and ceaseless military expansionism.
Colluded Against the American People
Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has made efforts to influence the American political discourse (not to mention presidential election outcome), which extends far beyond the company’s penchant for subtly disadvantaging independent and conservative thinkers on platforms like YouTube. By financially supporting left-leaning policy shops, Google’s parent company has helped raise a liberal army intent on hashing out policy minutiae to help bend US policy to their benefactors’ advantage.
Barry Lynn, formerly a top researcher at New America, learned that lesson the hard way after publishing a paper praising European Union antitrust regulators for fining Google nearly $3 billion for purportedly rigging its search algorithm to favor its own services over its rivals.
Google spent more than $9.5 million on lobbying during the first half of 2017, more than almost any other company. It has helped organize conferences at which key regulators overseeing investigations into the company were presented with pro-Google arguments, sometimes without disclosure of Google’s role in funding NA, according to the NYT.
The company has also donated to more than 170 groups from across the political spectrum, according to voluntary disclosures on its website.
Seeking to Censor Information
Google's 160-page handbook tells us all exactly how they plan to spoon feed us only “their” news. The lengthy handbook is a heavy read for the average person, but the book does lay out an Orwellian machination. Pay close attention to the “instructional” on page 108 where Google dictates who does and does not meet rating criteria. The section under Fails to Meet (FailsM) is a steamrolling of the free press, and suggested hiding certain kinds of sites:
“Pages that directly contradict well established historical facts (e.g., unsubstantiated conspiracy theories), unless the query clearly indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint.”
Google has obscured its real intentions with the idea that their algorithms are “filtering” or “learning” results to help your life be better. Once again Google supposes to do “what is good for the public” by destroying some sources and propping up others. Using terms like “search quality rating guidelines” and “page quality rating guidelines” at Google provide justification for controlling what you see and read on the web. Censorship and monopolization of internet information and business.
Also contained within the handbook is a section describing how Google will rank the best of the best news sites entitled “A High Level of Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness (EAT)”. The acronym alone should clue you that Google search users are about to be fed the "truth". “High Quality Pages” for the Google oligarchs means that either the page owner pays Google through the mouth, or that the site in question serves Google’s masters well – period. At the top of this matrix of sources are newspapers (High News 1) like The Washington Post and New York Times, followed by the articles within those pages (High News 2). On down the list of authority pages are government sites like the US State Department and White House. So, Google has factored out the importance of truth or even the importance of the news story itself, in favor of “who” wrote the story and the “reality” Google wants you to accept.
Search Results Shape People's Opinions
Researchers have observed that Internet search rankings have a significant impact on consumer attitudes, preferences, and behaviors, mainly because users trust and choose higher-ranked results more than lower-ranked results, even though users generally have
no idea how results get ranked. This phenomena, dubbed the "search engine manipulation effect" (SEME), is presumably why North American companies now spend more than 20 billion US dollars annually on efforts to place results at the top of rankings. Studies using eye-tracking technology have shown that people generally scan search engine results in the order in which the results appear and then fixate on the results that rank highest, even when lower-ranked results are more relevant to their search. Higher-ranked links also draw more clicks, and consequently people spend more time on Web pages associated with higher-ranked search results. A recent analysis of ∼300 million clicks on one search engine found that 91.5% of those clicks were on the first page of search results, with 32.5% on the first result and 17.6% on the second. The study also reported that the bottom item on the first page of results drew 140% more clicks than the first item on the second page.
Given the apparent power of search rankings, researchers sought out to determine whether search results could be manipulated to alter the preferences of undecided voters in democratic elections, since it is already well established that biased media sources such as newspapers, political polls, and television sway voters. Using a double-blind, randomized controlled experimental method, the results of these experiments demonstrate that:
Search engine companies are currently unregulated and these results could be viewed as a cause for concern, suggesting that such companies could affect — and perhaps are already affecting — the outcomes of close elections worldwide. Such manipulations are difficult to detect, and most people are relatively powerless when trying to resist sources of influence they cannot see. Of greater concern in the present context, when people are unaware they are being manipulated, they tend to believe they have adopted their new thinking voluntarily. Thus, unregulated election-related search rankings could pose a significant threat to the democratic system of government.
Start making the transition away from companies like Google and Facebook now. Begin using alternative search engines, such as:
Butler, P. (2017). We Told You So: Google Is NSA | New Eastern Outlook. [online] Journal-neo.org. Available at: https://journal-neo.org/2017/09/04/we-told-you-so-google-is-nsa/ [Accessed 10 Sep. 2017].
Epstein, R. and Robertson, R. (2015). The search engine manipulation effect (SEME) and its possible impact on the outcomes of elections. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(33), pp.E4512-E4521. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1419828112
Google. (2017). General Guidelines. [online] Available at: https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en//insidesearch/howsearchworks/assets/searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf [Accessed 10 Sep. 2017].
Ahmed, N. (2017). How the CIA made Google – INSURGE intelligence – Medium. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/how-the-cia-made-google-e836451a959e [Accessed 10 Sep. 2017].
from Corbett Report:
The old adage that “Knowledge is power” has been apparent to warriors and would-be rulers throughout history.
A well-known illustration from the annals of history revolves around Nathan Rothschild, the British representative of Meyer Amschel’s infamous Rothschild banking dynasty. At the Battle of Waterloo, Rothschild’s riders and messengers were able to get news of Napoleon’s defeat home to Nathan a full day in advance of the government’s own news carriers. As the story goes, Nathan was able to convince the public that he had in fact received news of Wellington’s defeat by selling heavily on the English stock market. When panic selling ensued, Rothschild had his agents buying up the stocks at pennies on the pound. By the time the news of Napoleon’s defeat actually reached Britain’s shores, Rothschild had already secured his position as one of the richest men in Britain, a fortune that was only further leveraged in the ensuing years lending post-war stabilization funds to Europe’s monarchy
Regardless of the story’s historical veracity, it serves to illustrate the fundamental precept: knowledge is indeed power. It also suggests a corollary: misinformation is a way of leveraging one’s power over an enemy. This, too, is an ancient idea that has been used throughout the centuries as a tool of psychological warfare to confer one’s army an advantage over its enemies.
Military deception is an ancient and time-honoured art. Throughout recorded history, military commanders have attempted to spread false news and seed false information as part of psychological warfare operations to deceive, confuse, and demoralize the enemy.
During the Crusades in 1271, Sultan Baibars successfully took the Crusaders’ Krak des Chevaliers in Syria by conveying a letter to the knights garrisoned there telling them to surrender. The letter, supposedly from the head of their order in Jerusalem, was in fact a crude forgery, but the gambit worked. The knights capitulated and the Sultan took the castle.
However it wasn’t until the invention and widespread use of technologies like the printing press and then the radio and the television, that the modern conception of “news” was formulated. The broadsheet, the magazine and the newspaper started to give people a sense of a regularly published digest of “news” stories. These technologies also enabled the possibility of mechanizing “false” news to spread propaganda to the enemy.
Some of the most dramatic examples of this came in the 20th century, with the use of airplanes to spread propaganda leaflets, and the use of radio to direct transmissions across enemy lines in a hope to sway public opinion.
This was by no means limited to psyops against the enemy, though. The very same techniques have been used throughout history to fool one’s own troops in an effort to raise morale.
In the Civil War, false “news” was routinely distributed to Confederate soldiers to boost their sprits before a battle, from false reports of Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s death to rumours that a world war was about to break out with England and France siding with the Confederates.
In WWII, false news of reinforcements for the beleaguered American-Filipino garrison resisting the Japanese invasion of the Philippines kept them fighting long past the point of their impending defeat.
One of the most extreme examples of “false information” spread to confuse, panic or disarm a nation, however, are news stories that are completely made up from whole cloth and broadcast as if they are real. These stories, too, although more rare, can be devastatingly effective in confusing and demoralizing enemies or panicking the public.
The pedigree of fake news stories goes back some time, but perhaps the most famous was the Halloween 1938 edition of the weekly radio drama, Mercury Theatre on the Air. This adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds was presented as a fake news broadcast of an alien invasion. Famously, many of the people listening did not realize that the transmission was fake, and assumed the nation was actually being invaded. Some believed aliens had actually landed, others assumed it was a Nazi ploy, as tensions swelled in the run-up to WWII.
Although commonly dismissed as a sensationalistic media hoax, the phenomenon provoked by the broadcast became the subject of intense academic research. One of the bodies that took special interest in the broadcast was the Princeton Radio Project, a Rockefeller Foundation-funded body researching the effect of radio in influencing public opinion. Closely connected to organs of the US psychological warfare program, the group, which included Nelson Rockefeller’s Dartmouth College roommate, Hadley Cantril, eventually published a study on the public reaction to War of the Worlds.
Since that time, fake news broadcasts have been aired on otherwise “mainstream” networks from time to time, often with little or no notice that the “news” story being aired is completely fictitious.
Sometimes the fake news is deliberately seeded into the public consciousness by way of a carefully coordinated public relations campaign.
Other times the fake news consists of staged or manipulated interviews, designed to give a false impression that the on-the-ground reality is different than it really is.
Yet another method of implanting fake news is to merely make large-scale accusations that can later be exposed as being completely baseless. The widespread coverage of the original allegation and the almost non-existent coverage of the retraction is enough to assure the effectiveness of this particular psyop tactic.
All of these methods of psychological warfare, however, are only as effective as they are believable. To a jaded public, or even just one that has learned not to trust the news from a given source that is known to have a bias for or against given entities, the effectiveness of such propaganda is severely limited. This is where a new and altogether more insidious form of misinformation comes into play, however: the video news release.
The VNR, or video news release is a short video production that is made to look like a news report. Often employing actors or PR specialists to represent the “reporter” and even the interviewees, the VNR has been used as a way for companies to work their products and services into the nightly news in the guise of a “news” broadcast.
More disturbing by far than the widespread use of this PR trick by companies like Microsoft and Phillip Morris is the use of VNRs by the federal government.
Some will dismiss the fears about VNRs out of hand. After all, they will argue, psychological warfare is by definition something that is used against one’s enemies, not one’s own people. This is in fact a mistaken assumption, and one that we will address in next week’s edition of this series.
For now, it will suffice to not our original premise: knowledge is indeed power. This implies another corollary, as well: ignorance is weakness. In this case, it is the public who time again perish for lack of knowledge, and the entities that seek to control their minds, be they governments foreign or domestic, or non-governmental actors altogether such as corporations and media entities, who can win the battle for the hearts and minds of the public by feeding them a steady stream of misinformation.
If the public is to have any hope at all in this bleak landscape, it can only come from a commitment to verifying and sourcing all of the information they receive. The psychological warriors can only have their way with a public who refuses to question their own sources of information and demand proof for the claims that are being made by their supposedly neutral sources of news.
Corbett, J. (2017). A Brief History of Fake News : The Corbett Report. [online] Corbettreport.com. Available at: https://www.corbettreport.com/a-brief-history-of-fake-news/ [Accessed 24 Aug. 2017].
Pursuant to Paragraph 16.3 of the Protective Order in the MDL, Monsanto was required to file a motion seeking continued protection of those documents challenged by the Plaintiffs’ June 30, 2017 letter within 30 days. In failing to file such motion within 30 days, i.e., July 31, 2017, Monsanto “automatically waive[s] the confidentiality designation for each challenged designation.” Id. ¶ 16.3. And, since Monsanto did not file any motion seeking continued protection of the documents, it waived confidentiality over them. The documents are now officially public and Baum Hedlund is excited to share them with the world.
The documents below allow people to see what is happening “behind the curtain” of secrecy that normally shrouds ongoing litigation. Along with each document, you will find a short description, along with the document’s relevance to the ongoing Monsanto Roundup litigation. These documents tell an alarming story of ghostwriting, scientific manipulation, collusion with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and previously undisclosed information about how the human body absorbs glyphosate. The following secret documents help us better understand the serious public health consequences of Monsanto’s conduct in marketing the herbicide Roundup.
We sent the following Monsanto secret documents to (1) the EPA Office of Inspector General, Arthur Elkins, Jr., who is presently investigating whether there was illegal collusion between EPA and Monsanto; (2) the California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), which recently listed glyphosate as a substance known to the state of California to cause cancer and is soliciting comments from Baum Hedlund and others to advise about whether glyphosate should be given a safe-harbor]; and (3) the European Parliament members, who recently sent a letter to the judge overseeing the MDL litigation, requesting documents as the EU considers whether it will renew registration of glyphosate for sale in Europe.
Below, you will find links to internal Monsanto emails, text messages, company reports and other memoranda obtained by Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman. The documents have been sorted into groups based on the following issues:
With each document, you will find a corresponding description, which briefly summarizes the key points raised, as well as commentary describing the relevance of each document to the ongoing Roundup litigation. Our commentary on the relevance of each document may contain allegations cited in the Roundup litigation. These are allegations only, as the litigation is ongoing and there has not been any determination of guilt or liability.
Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman. (2017). Monsanto Secret Documents. Available at: https://www.baumhedlundlaw.com/toxic-tort-law/monsanto-roundup-lawsuit/monsanto-secret-documents/ [Accessed 7 Aug. 2017].
With the advent of technology, such as the internet and social media, the ability of various corporations and governments to monitor the behaviors of the masses in an effort to manipulate and exploit the behaviors of individuals for the accumulation of wealth and control has never been easier to obtain. Behold the future, where behavioral science meets gaming theory. Applications like Carrot Rewards have been carefully created to keep the masses behaving "appropriately", such as healthy eating and taking the flu shot.
The free app — which already has a quarter of a million Ontarians signed up — has received a $1.5 million boost from the Ontario government. The Carrot Rewards app provides information and gives users a chance to earn points by answering short surveys and builds up user profiles, and “the beauty about the app is once it knows you well, it can target you with much more specific (information),” said Andreas Souvaliotis, the CEO of Carrot Insights, in a telephone interview.
The points plans available include Aeroplan, Petro Points, Scene (Cineplex) and More Rewards.
The app is already in use in British Columbia and Newfoundland/Labrador, and the federal government also jumped on board, pledging $5 million to cover the cost of the initial sign-up points and the bonus rewarded for referring friends.
The creators of the app claim the digital platform is encouraging and incentivizing "healthy" choices, and helping to improve the overall health and well-being of people across the province in an easy and fun fashion.
Given this information, and taking into account what we should have learned from our mistakes, as history repeats itself, we should be asking ourselves, "is the government invested in this app for the societies best interest?" Or is this considered social engineering?
The Worst Case Scenario
Cross, J. (2017). Ontario gives $1.5M to Carrot Rewards app to help people make healthy choices | Toronto Star. thestar.com. Retrieved 19 July 2017, from https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/07/06/ontario-gives-15m-to-carrot-rewards-app-to-help-people-make-healthy-choices.html
(2017). Carrot Rewards. Retrieved 19 July 2017, from https://www.carrotrewards.ca/home/
The purpose of providing this information is to identify and increase awareness of world issues, in an effort to create a better world.